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November 21, 2014

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Indicted Clark County judge surrenders to U.S. marshals

Clark County District Judge Steven Jones has surrendered to the U.S. Marshals Service and is scheduled to appear in court at 3 p.m. Thursday on federal fraud charges, according to the office of Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden.

Jones is scheduled to make an initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate at the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas.

A criminal indictment unsealed Wednesday charges 54-year-old Jones with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of engaging in money transactions in criminally derived property and nine counts of money laundering, officials said. His co-defendants, who face the same charges, are Thomas A. Cecrle Jr., 55, Terry J. Wolfe, 57, Constance C. Fenton, 68, Mark L. Hansen, 54, and Ashlee M. Martin, 38.

Jones, Cecrle and Wolfe reside in Henderson, officials said. Fenton is from Gig Harbor, Wash.; Hansen is from Corvallis, Ore.; and Martin is from Las Vegas.

The criminal indictment alleges the defendants, from September 2002 to October of this year, defrauded victims of more than $3 million by promising exorbitant interest rates on money loans. The loans, the government says, were never repaid.

Jones, who earned his juris doctorate from California Western School of Law, was elected to the bench of District Court's family division in 1992, according to his biography posted on a Clark County courts website. He was the first presiding judge for Family Court when it commenced. He mounted an unsuccessful run in 1996 for the Nevada Supreme Court.

Jones allegedly used his capacity as a judge to vouch for one of the co-defendants when disgruntled investors questioned the legitimacy of their investments, according to the indictment.

Jones, who allegedly knew the scheme was a fraud, met with investors in his chambers, over the phone and elsewhere, intervening on behalf of Cecrle to prevent and delay legal actions against him, officials said. Jones also allegedly fielded phone calls from at least one co-defendant in chambers, drafted and reviewed documents associated with the sham investments and received cash proceeds from the scheme at the courthouse.

The indictment alleges Jones established and maintained a joint bank account with Cecrle through which they received and laundered more than $250,000 from the fraudulent scheme.

Authorities arrested Cecrle, Wolfe and Martin on Wednesday morning in Henderson and Las Vegas, and Hansen was arrested in Oregon. Jones surrendered Thursday morning, according to Bogden.

CORRECTION: This story has been corrected with the correct spelling of U.S. Attorney Daniel's Bogden's last name. | (November 1, 2012)

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